Hypothesis #1 : Orgasms experienced by ASD individuals are similar to individuals without ASD.
What supports this argument is our physical development. For most of us, the physical body structure and reproductive system mirrors neuro-typical development. When puberty hits during adolescence, most of us experience the same physical changes to our bodies. Girls produce eggs, develop menstrual periods and grow breasts. Boys produce sperm, experience nocturnal emissions (a.k.a. “wet dreams”) and may experience a voice drop. All experience body hair and pubic hair growth. Same thing applies to adulthood and aging, when our bodies are fully mature. Women and girls have the ability to get pregnant. Men and boys have the ability to ejaculate. Women and girls have the ability to give birth. Women experience menopause as they age. Men may experience erectile dysfunction as they age. Why wouldn’t our sexual response cycle be similar?
Although some of us have difficulty in figuring out how to handle changes during puberty, reproductive development and aging, what our bodies go through is no different than what individuals without ASD go through. So it wouldn’t be outrageous to assume the way our bodies respond to to orgasm is more-or-less the same.
Hypothesis #2: Orgasms experienced by ASD individuals are different from individuals without ASD.
Time to play devil’s advocate.
When we talk about autism and sex, we cannot disregard the role our sensory system plays into it. Sex and intimacy between couples where one or both partners have ASD is highly influenced by the sensory system. Sensations which trigger a strong reaction, whether painful or pleasurable, tend to be amplified. This has been proven in day-to-day life activities, and it can easily apply to orgasms. Sensations which trigger a strong reaction, whether painful or pleasurable, tend to be amplified. This has been proven in day-to-day life activities, and it can easily apply to orgasms.
Sensations which trigger a strong reaction, whether painful or pleasurable, tend to be amplified. This has been proven in day-to-day life activities, and it can easily apply to orgasms.
An orgasm (which occurs in the climax phase of the sexual response cycle) is a full-body response. But the genital area is not the only place which has to feel right… the whole body has to feel right. The whole body has to be prepared to take in that type of response. ‘The stars have to be aligned’, figuratively speaking. However, it is absolutely possible to arrange a set-up where an orgasm can be achieved. With practice, a person can develop or adopt methods which speed up the process of preparing the body for orgasm. Most individuals on the spectrum, regardless of cognitive comprehension or communication level, have been able to figure out the right set-up to experience orgasms on a regular basis.
Some individuals, like my brother, have not developed a “filter” of recognizing what behaviors are appropriate in the presence of other people and what behaviors are more appropriate to be done behind closed doors. In those cases, the individuals are not as concerned about displaying sexual behavior in another person’s presence as they are more focused on setting themselves up and preparing their own bodies to experience orgasm. They require extra guidance from family, professionals and educators to assure them it is perfectly okay to engage in sexual behavior as long as it is done privately by oneself or with consenting sexual partners.
Other individuals have applied that “filter” to the extent where exposure will pose frightening and uncomfortable, even when in the presence of a sexual partner he or she has consented to. They may still be capable to enjoy intimacy and sex, but never quite get to the height of climax (we will discuss more on this later).
Orgasms release a chemical called oxytocin. There has been some discussion on ASDs and its link to oxytocin levels, brought up by both researchers and individuals on the spectrum. We know oxytocin plays a role in the effects of orgasm, but it remains uncertain on oxytocin’s role in the quality of orgasm. At the very least, it can spark an interesting conversation around the dinner table.
As of now, all of these theories are not set in concrete. But it would not be surprising to hear if any scientific evidence comes out in the future that supports the idea that an orgasm experienced by an individual with ASD can easily be more intense than the average orgasm experienced by an individual without ASD.
Next, we will discuss the challenges…